Power by LoticRelease date: July 13, 2018
Label: Tri Angle records
Despite having made their name in the clubs of Houston and Berlin Lotic‘s debut album Power is a step away from the dance floor. There are no 4/4 party bangers here, Power is an abstract and emotionally expressive album of joy, pain and transformation. Not a dance record but full of dance music moves and production tricks unpinned from the tyranny of the beat, broken and reassembled to different, more personal, purpose. Opening track ‘Love and Light’ is sparkling and pretty, clean crystal notes rain over a steady repeating undertow. There’s something almost ASMR about it and then it tips full on into the soft whispery vocal of ‘Hunted’. “brown skin, masculine frame/head’s a target/actin’ real feminine/make ’em vomit”. That’s a pretty direct statement of the album’s content and concerns right there but it’s delivered obliquely.
Lotic left Houston behind for Berlin, had a pretty rough time of it becoming homeless among other trials and has emerged from it embracing they/their pronouns and stronger sense of self. The remarkable diva-like cover shot aside Power is neither a defiant ‘look at me now’ identity statement or a dark wallow in the struggles surrounding its creation. It resists that kind of simplicity taking in both those emotional points and many more besides. Vocals are a new twist in Lotic’s music, they pop up on several of the tracks but are rarely front and centre and seem to be a different voice, even a different character, on each occasion. ‘Human’ is followed by ‘Bulletproof’, a track full of fax machine squeals and wonky machine rhythms that ends on a vocal sighing out “I’m a bulletproof nigger” as if sleep talking.
It might have found its way from the dance floor to a dark corner booth but Power is packed with constantly shifting and inventive beats. It’s just that they never feel physical enough to move your feet. The broken percussion loops on ‘Resilience’ skitter about in washes of warm synths before being set upon by twisty bass stabs that have escaped from dubstep hell. All across the album the combination of shiny delicate sounds over twisted shapes and dark wells of noise recall Venetian Snares’ huge chrome cylinder box unfolding but driven by emotion rather than machine intelligence. This is particularly strong on ‘Fragility’ and the epic title track which has some full tilt death metal drum solo loop business going on and delicate melody that slowly floats out one note at a time.
The later half of the tracklist (‘Resilience’, ‘Fragility’, ‘Nerve’, ‘Heart’, ‘Power’, ‘Solace’) reads like the chapter headings of a self help book but nothing so dull and direct is going on here. On the closing track ‘Solace’ the vocal is the most open on the album but offers no neat resolution and the delicate, clean loops are eaten by a robot beast. The word lotic relates to moving water and the music they’ve made here is as fluid and clear and mysterious as that suggests.